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And now, the end is near, and so we face the final curtain

Mr Unpopular: Sterling is likely to play his last game for Liverpool on Sunday

Hull boss Steve Bruce can only hope Louis van Gaal’s extraordinary end-of-season performance has left his players still shaking off the effects of their night on the sauce.

Whether it was his fist-clenched bellows, the manner in which he owned the stage or the pinpoint slap he gave Ryan Giggs at the dinner table, it was clear who was in charge at the Manchester United awards night.

The only thing Van Gaal probably wasn’t in charge of was his drinks orders — not that anyone was going to tell him to slow down.

There’s every chance Bruce is putting off his much-talked about diet to sink a few stiff ones given his team’s predicament.

They must beat United — something Bruce has never done as a manager — and hope Newcastle can’t beat West Ham or it’s curtains.

The latter is a safer bet than the former, one suspects — unless Wayne Rooney & Co are still toasting their manager’s wonderful display on the mic.

Sunday’s games

All 11am kick off

Arsenal v West Brom

Perhaps the most alarming fact for Arsenal fans is that they have not scored in their past three home games — not great with an FA Cup around the corner.

West Brom, unbeaten in five, beat Chelsea in a meaningless game last time out so there’s danger there for the Gunners, who need to do that most vital of things in football, score.

Prediction: 2-1

Aston Villa v Burnley

Chastened by their 6-1 defeat at Southampton, Villa’s team are playing for their places in the FA Cup final. Last game for Danny Ings for Burnley, who received some unnecessary online abuse from his own fans recently. Proof, if ever, that supporters are the most fickle of breeds.

Prediction: 2-0

Chelsea v Sunderland

Sunderland have a great record against Chelsea but that doesn’t matter this weekend because, after parking 11 buses behind the ball quite magnificently against Arsenal, they are now safe.

Will Dick Advocaat stay? That’s the big question. His tears of joy suggest he may be heading into retirement but no one knows, except maybe his wife.

Prediction: 1-1

Crystal Palace v Swansea

Two sides managed by two very pleased men right now. Could there be a boss more entitled to feeling smug as Alan Pardew, who, to be fair, has never let failure stop him from doing that in the past anyway.

Prediction: 2-0

Everton v Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs’ win over Hull was only their second in their past seven but a victory over Everton and Liverpool slipping up at Stoke would see them secure fifth.

Prediction: 2-2

Hull City v Manchester United

Hull’s form has been so insipid of late — incredible given their position — that a home win seems highly unlikely.

Stranger things have happened, of course, and an early goal would give them genuine hope and impetus.

Prediction: 2-2

Leicester City v QPR

A glorious day for Leicester fans who can bask in the knowledge of Premier League football next season — and mock their opponents, naturally.

Prediction: 3-1

Man City v Southampton

Saints have more reason to be cheerful after an excellent season but City will know a final flourish will at least keep the mood upbeat heading into next season.

Prediction: 3-1

Newcastle United v West Ham

One point from a possible 30 outlines the shambles at Newcastle right now and they go into this crunch relegation match against a manager who could not be blamed for holding a grudge.

Sam Allardyce would probably not shed a tear if Newcastle go down given his short tenure in the North East. It would give him some comfort before he, as expected, departs the Hammers.

Prediction: 1-2

Stoke City v Liverpool

Root canal is probably more enjoyable than a meeting with Raheem Sterling’s agent, who seems to be making it his business to ensure his client manages to p**s everyone off at Anfield.

The England winger could line up for what may well be his last game in a Liverpool shirt. He’ll get a rather different reception to Stevie Gerrard, one feels.

Anyway, is he even that good? Score draw.

Prediction: 1-1